Fri07252014

Last updateTue, 22 Jul 2014 9pm

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Students now using Kindles at Shell Elementary

kindle_5Shell Elementary Media Specialist Mariana Herndon (center) demonstrates to fifth graders Jeremy Starkes (left) and Zackery Poppell (right) how to use the school's new Kindle e-readers.

HAWTHORNE – Once the initial ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ were out of the way, about 30 fifth-graders gathered in the media center at Shell Elementary began focusing intently on the six-inch screens in their hands. For many, it was the first time they’d ever read anything on an e-reader.

“This is awesome,” said student A.J. Williamson. “It makes learning more interesting.”

The students are among the 80 Shell 4th- and 5th-graders and teachers who have received a Kindle Touch thanks to a nearly $10,000 grant from the Plum Creek Foundation. The Kindles came pre-loaded with Aesop’s Fables, a dictionary and an interactive word game. But teachers and students will soon begin adding textbooks, more learning activities and books to read just for fun.

“I like it,” said student Dominique Byrne. “It’s ‘funner’ to read on.”

“It makes reading more fun,” agreed classmate Zachary Poppell.

During an initial training session, media specialist Marlena Herndon showed the students how to turn on their Kindles, navigate through the menu, turn pages and perform other basic tasks before turning them loose on the new devices. Later they’ll learn about other useful features, including the ability to download audio books that will allow students to hear a book while reading along.

Principal Denise Schultz says providing this kind of learning tool for her students has been one of her primary goals.

“I want Shell to be out on the forefront with technology,” she said. “I knew that once we put this device in our students’ hands they would just take off with it.”

Rose Fagler, community relations manager for Plum Creek, said she was gratified at the intensity she saw among the students as they experimented with the Kindles.

“Even though they live in a small rural community, these kids are now on the cutting edge of technology,” she said. “This is where textbooks and reading are going to go in the future, and they get to be a part of it.”